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The Importance of Keeping Your Pet’s Teeth Clean
Possible Dangers of Rawhide Treats and What You Need to Know
How to Choose a Good, Nutritious Food for Your Dog

The Importance of Keeping Your Pet’s Teeth Clean
Always remember to brush your teeth. It’s something we’ve all heard since childhood. But what about your pets? Did you know that it’s also just as important for your dog and cat to have good dental hygiene?

Just as with humans, if you don’t take care of your pet’s teeth, it can cause other health problems. “Your pet’s teeth and gums should be checked at least once a year by your veterinarian to check for early signs of a problem and to keep your pet’s mouth healthy,” according to the article, “Pet dental care” at the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA.org).

The most common dental condition among dogs and cats is periodontal disease, most often seen by the time your pet is 3. Prevention, of course, is the best medicine. If not, the disease will get worse with age, which can cause more serious health problems. These include issues with kidneys, liver, and heart muscle.

According to the article, “Dental Cleaning for Dogs and Cats,” at Vetstreet.com, “A professional veterinary dental cleaning is the only way to remove tartar from the teeth and under the gum tissue to protect your pet’s health.” And, while there is no cure for periodontal disease, keeping up with cleanings and brushing your pet’s teeth can help.

A dental cleaning is done under anesthesia and can include:

• Removal of visible plaque and tartar from teeth and under the gum
• Assessing dental disease
• Removing or repairing infected or fractured teeth

Have your pet’s teeth checked during regular vet visits. Also, see your vet when your pet has bad breath, is pawing at the mouth, or has difficulty chewing.

Remember, February is National Pet Dental Health Month, so make the call for your pet’s dental and overall health.

Possible Dangers of Rawhide Treats and What You Need to Know
It’s always a great idea to do research when it comes to the food and treats you give to your dog. The more you know about ingredients and where things come from, the better for you both.

If you provide rawhide treats, first find out what it is and whether it’s actually safe.

Rawhide treats are made from the inner layers of horses or cows. According to the article, “Rawhide: Good or Bad for Your Dog?” at Fetch by WebMD, “During manufacturing, the hides are cleaned and cut or ground. Then they’re pressed into chewable dog treats of different shapes and sizes.” Then flavorings such as beef or chicken are added for more appeal.

Dogs have a natural instinct to chew, so many people provide rawhide. However, the article said there are risks:

• May contain small amounts of toxic chemicals
• Possible digestive issues; rawhide is not digestible
• Can cause choking or blockage with serious situations leading to surgery or even death

According to the article, “The Dangers of Rawhide Chews,” at Petful, rawhide treats can also cause infection, and food poisoning for people and pets. “That chewy treat your dog chows down on has been soaked in chemical preservatives, ash-lye, chemical puffers, bleach and then colors and flavors,” the article said.

To reduce incidents, the Petful article offers safety advice:

• Always wash your hands after handling rawhide.
• Use the correct size chew for your dog.
• Supervise your dog when he’s chewing rawhide.
• When the chew is small and can be swallowed, remove it and discard.

For alternatives to rawhide, the Petful article suggests things such as:

• Vegetables, including carrots and green beans
• Nylabones
• Chew toys
• Dental chews

Whatever you decide, before giving your dog rawhide, do your own research.

How to Choose a Good, Nutritious Food for Your Dog
There are so many dog food choices. You want to ensure your dog gets the best nutrition for good health, but which food is best for your dog?

Cost may be a factor. But remember that you usually get what you pay for, so there is a way to strike a balance.

Check ingredients so you know what’s in the dog food. According to the article, “How to Choose the Best Dog Food,” at PetMD.com, “Keep in mind that ingredients are listed by weight. Ingredients that contain large amounts of moisture (such as beef, poultry, chicken, or fish) are likely to be at the top of the list because of the moisture content. Ingredients further down the list may offer even more key nutrients such as protein but may weigh less because the water has already been removed for a dry pet food.”

Other ingredients can include grains and gluten. Grains are a source of carbohydrates. “Dogs can easily metabolize these carbohydrates and use them as an energy source,” the PetMD article said. There are people who avoid grains due to allergies. Others try to avoid gluten. However, allergies to gluten are not very common in dogs.

According to the article, “Whole Dog Journal’s Approved Dry Dog Food List,” at Whole Dog Journal, ingredients to avoid in dry dog food includes:

• Meat by-products
• “Generic” fat source
• Artificial preservatives, colors, and flavors
• Sweeteners

While not all nutritional experts have the same ideas on dog food, they know that a good, balanced diet means good health for dogs.

“The healthiest dog foods contain high-quality proteins and whole, unprocessed grains and vegetables,” according to the Whole Dog Journal article. Buy food with high-quality proteins and stay away from ingredients with “vague wording” or anything that reads “poultry meal” or “meat meal.”

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